We are finally recovering from the Blizzard of 2013, and tomorrow’s weather is predicted to be in the high 40s. Even the days are getting longer; it’s light out at 5:00 pm. I definitely feel we are almost over the "winter hump". I can actually wrap my head around our spring issue! As I reflect back on the past few months, I want to share with you some of my strategies for getting through this winter season. First, and maybe most important, going to the many local winter farmers markets helped immensely. I think this is the first year that I am not going into the spring season craving fresh vegetables and feeling nutritionally deprived! Access to greenhouse-grown, hydroponically-grown, and root cellar-stored produce has been abundant this year. The number of winter markets throughout the state increased to 40, thus opening up a new revenue stream for farmers as well as food producers. The demand by consumers was there, and our farms and state agricultural commissions met the challenge. It was a win for all involved. Thank you!

Besides commerce, there is another aspect of farmers markets that we cannot ignore: they tend to be a social hub for their host neighborhoods and towns. I can be a home-body in the winter: days can go by with only minimal contact with my neighbors or “food community” friends. Having the winter farmers markets nearby, these relationships were easily maintained beyond the summer months. Catching up while waiting to purchase a loaf of bread or a bag of veggies—a ritual in the summer—continued through February!

The last element that I believe changed for me this winter was that I found myself cooking full meals on a regular basis. Inspired by the availability of good, fresh food, as well as the urge to be cozy in a warm kitchen, definitely impacted my evening meals. It was a perfect opportunity to test out recipes from the many cookbooks that have passed across my desk, try the lamb recipes we asked our readers for, and experiment on my own.

All in all, as the winter comes to an end, I have to say, it was not a bad one.

What bodes for spring? We don’t know; Mother Nature keeps her plans secret. What I do know is that I’m going into it with a positive attitude, as the transition seems to be a lot smoother than it has been in the past, with many thanks to our local food producers and farmers for all that they do!

Ilene Bezahler Publisher/Editor